Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Brent R. Weisman


conflict archaeology, interaction theory, landscape archaeology, military archaeology, military education


Conflict archaeology is a fairly new discipline and is in the process of defining its methods and theories. Recently, the American Battlefield Protection Program has started requiring that grant applicants perform a KOCOA analysis. KOCOA is a modern military technique and stands for Key terrain, Obstacle, Cover and Concealment, Observation, and Avenues of Approach. However, this method was developed for modern warfare, and its adoption by the archaeological community has not yet been analyzed. I argue that this method needs a few modifications to make it more applicable to historical research and that it can be broadened to investigate more complex questions regarding decision-making processes. In its current form, KOCOA only looks at how a landscape was used during conflict based on the results of what happened. I contend we can use this method to analyze the landscape and look at the decisions that went into selecting it. Employing KOCOA in this manner will allow us to understand how militaries adapted, or failed to adapt, to a given landscape.

The Second Seminole War in Florida (1835-1842) can serve as an ideal case study. For one thing, the military had never experienced the Florida environment, and therefore adaptations to landscape utilization will be readily apparent. Also, in the early 19th-century, the military as a cultural institution indoctrinated its members through extensive training at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, and I propose this standardized education had a significant negative effect on the shape, direction, and outcome of the Second Seminole War due to the gap between the knowledge gained through training and the knowledge needed in the field when fighting a war with Indians in the swamps and hammocks of Florida. Using modern military theory, the purpose of this research is to develop tools to measure how traditional European educational methods, which officers received while at the Military Academy, hindered their ability to adapt to the unique and challenging environment they encountered while trying to remove the Seminole Indians from the Florida territory.

Conflict archaeology is also well suited to investigate the more human side, such as the decision-making processes and adaptations required, moving beyond the "what" and "how" aspects of conflict to the "why." One traditional approach to conflict archaeology is KOCOA. As used archaeologically, KOCOA employs modern cartographic information. Those participating in the conflict, however, would not have had access to this level of detail. Therefore, I propose that KOCOA be revised to incorporate the knowledge that would have been available to the decision makers at the time of the conflict. The aim of this research is to expand the methodologies of conflict archaeology to include indirect expressions of warfare and to incorporate them into a meaningful discussion of their role in the outcome of conflict. To accomplish this, I have developed a model against which hypotheses about the decision-making processes and their effectiveness can be compared.